About 120 survivors will join Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, military leaders and civilians to observe a moment of silence in Pearl Harbor... the moment the attack began seven decades ago....One survivor's story:
President Barack Obama hailed veterans of the bombing in a statement proclaiming Wednesday "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
"Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II. As a nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms," he said.
“As quiet a day as you’ve ever seen... Beautiful sunshine, nothing going on.”The survivors who remain are now very old:
Suddenly, not far from his seat in the dining hall: bang, bang, bang.
“Somebody says, ‘It’s the Chinese New Year,’ ” he said.
But then, a bullet broke through the glass window of the dining hall. Another flew just past [Army Private Francis ] Stueve and knocked the butter dish off the table.
For more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered here every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack by the Japanese that drew the United States into World War II. Others stayed closer to home for more intimate regional chapter ceremonies...
But no more. The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association....
“We had no choice,” said William H. Eckel, 89....
“We just ran out of gas, that’s what it amounted to,” [said Harry R. Kerr.] “We felt we ran a good course for 70 years. Fought a good fight. We have no place to recruit people anymore: Dec. 7 only happened on one day in 1941.”